I sort of like Christmas. I say "sort of" because I have really mixed feelings about it. I love seeing family and spending time with friends, I love the feeling of nostalgia it evokes in me, I love the way it can bring people together and gives an opportunity to think of others, ....and so on. There's a "but" for me, as I suspect there is for many of us. I usually finish the festive season tired from staying up late and going out too much, a few pounds heavier from overindulgence; appalled at the amount of unnecessary expense and waste that Christmas creates and generally glad the commercial fest it has now become is all over for another year.
So, this year I am going to try and think of some practical ways I can offset the impact of Christmas and make it a time where I can have some positive impact on the world around me. And, given that I love the ocean I am going to direct my efforts towards changing the seas for the better. This does not mean I am giving up Christmas....not at all. Nor does it mean I will be spending Christmas Day cleaning my favourite beach (although that does sound quite appealing). But it does mean I am going to try hard to build small sea-changing actions into my Christmas planning over the next few weeks. And I am going to share my ideas with you so you can join in if you want, or apply some of the ideas to the causes close to your hearts.
So, given that the last weekend was one of the biggest online shopping weekends of the year this is where I turn my attention to first....BUYING PRESENTS:
Buy Presents and Give to Charity Without it Costing a Penny
Christmas is expensive enough so I love ideas that help me raise money for Sea-Changers without costing me a penny. So how about these:
- Raising money with every present idea search. Through Easysearch I have raised money with every search for presents I have done. This weekend, I made forty searches and raised 20p for Sea -Changers. Okay, so it's not big bucks on its own, but they were online searches I was going to make anyway. And if 100 of you did the same, the pennies soon become pounds...if 1,000 of you joined in we'd raise hundreds of pounds, and Sea-Changers could use that money for grants to grass roots marine conservation projects around the UK.
- Raising money with every present bought online. There are a number of routes you can follow to do this but the principle is the same (we recommend either Give as You Live or Easyfundraising.) Loads of retailers will make a donation to your chosen charity when you make an online purchase. For example, Amazon will donate 1.5%, John Lewis will donate 2% and Sports Direct will donate 2.75%. Over the last ten days I have spent £100 at a range of retail outlets online and through that I have donated around a fiver to Sea-Changers ....and it cost me nothing. And it is not just presents you can buy. I have bought train tickets, and booked a hotel and both raised more money for Sea-Changers.
- Making Sea-Changers a favourite on eBay. This one is more indirect, but I have decided to sell a few bits and bobs on eBay to raise cash for Sea-Changers (more later). Simply by making Sea-Changers my favourite charity I can potentially raise money because doing this gives all those who purchase from me on eBay a prompt to make a donation to Sea-Changers at the check out stage. Clearly not everyone will do this but some people will. So out of my ten sale items maybe a couple of people will donate....kerrrrrching, more money in the pot.
Buying cool stuff that helps the seas
Got to be careful what I say here because I don't want to spoil the surprises for nearest and dearest by disclosing my present list, but I have also be thinking long and hard about buying presents that are good for the seas as well as good for the recipients. I want people to be pleased with what they get and not open my gift with trepidation (wondering if it will be a bag of home spun knitted muesli) but here are a few ideas so far:
- Cool reusable gifts that reduce plastic use and thereby the potential for more plastic in the seas, things like: bags, bottles, cups, sandwich wrappers
- Avoid make up and toiletries that contain microplastics. To help with this use this cool app.
- DVDs, and books to challenge and inform - there are loads to choose from and I am going to write another short blog next in a couple of days picking out my favourites, but as a taster how about Roz Savage's new book 'Stop Drifting, Start Rowing' or Callum Roberts 'Ocean of Life' book.
- Give a Good Gift or make donation instead of buying a present.
- Buying a sea related experience e.g. a trip to the National Lobster Hatchery, a rock pooling morning, a day's training course on whale and dolphin spotting, book a try dive or a surf lesson to introduce someone to the wonders of the sea.
- Topping up your Christmas stocking with some gifts from the Sea-Changers eBay site.
- I have also bought quite a few food items for people but I have tried to consider things like: where the food came from, is it fairly traded?, how it is packaged?...and of course, will it be yummy?
Okay, so I have cheated a bit on this one. The only presents I have made are jars of blackberry and redcurrant jam ("oh no, not another jar" I hear family members groan); but actually homemade stuff can be fun and just as welcome, if not more welcome than shop bought gifts. So whatever your talent is: crocheting, planting bulbs, baking a cake, throwing a pot: homemade presents are potentially cheaper, definitely more love-filled and environmentally friendly (therefore sea-loving) gifts.
That's all for now, more Christmas ideas soon. In the meantime, I am sure your ideas will be loads better than mine so post them below or, post them to a wider audience on our Facebook page and we will share and post to Twitter. I tell you what...best suggestion will receive a jar of my jam :D